Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement


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In 2016, after years working in the post-conflict region of Acholi, including with former child soldiers, we expanded our activities to work with young people living within and around the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, located by the town of Bweyale. Young refugees are another category of youth significantly affected by conflict whose need for empowerment and opportunities exceed the domain of humanitarian aid. The issue of refugees in Uganda has taken a dramatic turn in the recent years due to the conflict in neighboring South Sudan. According to the United Nations, more than one million South Sudanese, 85% of them young people and children under 18, have taken refuge in Uganda. The country has one of the most open refugee policies in the world, but the recent massive influx of refugees has generated an unprecedented burden on the resources of Ugandans and their government. We believed this refugee crisis called for more than the traditional focus on emergencies. Addressing the needs of the population, and youth in particular, required building for the future, combining the type of interventions in peacebuilding, trauma healing and entrepreneurship that one finds in our flagship program, the Youth Peacemaker Network.

Partnering with the Western Union Foundation, we undertook to deploy a branch of the YPN directly into the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, which hosts around 60,000 people, a majority of them young people. With our Community Learning Center built directly inside the settlement, and a contingent of youth leaders aided by groups of local youth originating from within and around the settlement, we have been able to make a significant impact – reaching up to 70,000 people a year. The youth-led community dialogues, radio talk shows and conflict resolution education programs in schools of the settlement have directly contributed to a disseminating a culture of peace in the most effective manner. These efforts have translated into reducing violent incidents between ethnic groups from three per week to three in six months, which was documented both by the UN and the Office of the Prime Minister in charge of the settlement.

 

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Partnering with the Western Union Foundation, we undertook to deploy a branch of the YPN directly into the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, which hosts around 60,000 people, a majority of them young people. With our Community Learning Center built directly inside the settlement, and a contingent of youth leaders aided by groups of local youth originating from within and around the settlement, we have been able to make a significant impact – reaching up to 70,000 people a year. The youth-led community dialogues, radio talk shows and conflict resolution education programs in schools of the settlement have directly contributed to a disseminating a culture of peace in the most effective manner. These efforts have translated into reducing violent incidents between ethnic groups from three per week to three in six months, which was documented both by the UN and the Office of the Prime Minister in charge of the settlement.

Our Community Learning Center has been a source of transformation and became a hub for the refugee community, due to its rich offering of connected computers, library services, courses in conflict resolution, ICT, entrepreneurship and arts & craft. To answer the specific needs of the refugee population, the center has also specialized in providing trauma healing and Sexual & Reproductive Health programs that have changed the lives of many. In addition, we have created a program for vulnerable refugee women, many of them young mothers, who’ve lost everything to conflict, save their dignity and their willingness to learn and work. We train them in entrepreneurship and help them set up small cooperative businesses.

Through the Center, our programs Peace Through Sports and Cinema for Peace that combine recreational and educational activities have been a unique vector to disseminate values of mutual respect among the diverse tribes residing in the settlement and helped many children and youth address their traumatic experiences and reconnect with themselves.

Surveys we ran among former trainees at our CLC revealed that

Overall, the main success of the Center is contributing to an atmosphere of peace and possibility. This was confirmed by the feedback from participants who told us how they had been transformed by our programs on trauma healing and sexual and reproductive health. In the same vein, our programs combining peace education, psycho-social support and recreation, Peace Through Sports and Cinema for Peace, have helped refugees learn peace values in an efficient and active manner.

 

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Key numbers to understand our impact at the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement:

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